This morning, I was asked if I wanted to help out in the shearing shed – we have some sheep (merinos!) here on the property and it was time for them to get their fleece sheared (shorn?). I could I refuse that? Seriously? Helping in the making of wool? Yes, please!
I was then whisked away to the shearing shed, which is located on the property of a family friend. There another little herd of sheep belonging to another friend was being sheared / shorn (I hear the 2 are correct?). I arrived just on time for morning tea! And at this stage “our” sheep (they’re not mine, really) were still looking like that.
These are the girls with no lambs. Aren’t they lovely?
And here, you can just guess the mums and their little ones! We have 5 lambs on the property – 3 boys and 2 girls, apparently – from 4 mums. One of them had twins (boys) obviously. The oldest ones must be about 3 weeks old and the youngest one is about a week old. The youngest is the smallest (obviously), but also the whitest one! It’s funny how quickly they lose their pristine white appearance!
I was taught how to skirt a fleece. And it is a lot of fun! Yes, it smells of sheep, yes, it’s a bit dirty. But still, I enjoyed it. The sheep were very relaxed and seemed to be enjoying the shearing – or at least accepting it like some kind of necessary act.
The shearing was very fast and I quickly learn how to separate the good from the bad fleece: dirtiest bits, wet bits and sometimes (though rarely) bloody / with skin bits. Yes, there can be a bit of skin cut, the sheep are not annoyed by it and it will heal very quickly. After all, I don’t think a week goes by without the husband cutting himself while shaving, so I don’t expect all sheep to be completely cut free after shearing. It happens only when they jerk unpredictably, and even that, the shearer is really good at anticipating unexpected movements.
More or less all the fleece can be sold, even the dirtiest bits (as long as there’s no skin on it, that goes to the bin), though they go in a different bag. I think they are sold at auction. Who knows, in a few months time, I might be knitting some of our own merino!
A very bad pic of the lambs reunited with their newly sheared / shorn mother. Aren’t they sweet?
After this couple of hours spent handling raw fleeces, my hands were shiny with lanolin. I smelled like sheep, but really it’s not that bad. Nothing that a good shower can’t wash away anyway.
The lanolin was marvelous on the dry patches of my hands: so smooth now!
And that’s how our boys looked like when they came back home.
The one with the big horns is the ram. He’s so huge compared to the others! And the only one who didn’t seem too happy to show off his belly to the shearer!
I can’t wait for next year’s shearing!